I listened to the audio of Mr Mercedes narrated by the fantastic Will Patton, Stephen King writes an exemplary character driven thriller that drags you in, gets you hooked on everyone involved and then slowly turns the screw on the tension until the air is literally vibrating with anticipation.
The killer dubbed Mr Mercedes likes to play games and see the suffering his actions cause, stealing a Mercedes he callously drives it into a crowd of people, killing and maiming and then just as effectively disappearing without a trace.
Bill Hodges was a star detective, a hero of the city, now retired he’s at a bit of a loose end, bored and depressed to the point of considering putting his old service weapon into his mouth and ending his misery. The Mr Mercedes case was one of the big ones, one that he couldn’t solve, the killer then makes his biggest mistake he sends Hodges a letter hoping to help the retired detective along in his plans to end his own life. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite have the desired effect and Hodges is invigorated as he once more sets about finding Mr Mercedes.
The story then bounces desperately between the killer and the hunter, told from both viewpoints, ramping up the pressure until it becomes a furiously frantic dash to stop the killer’s final play.
What Stephen King does extremely well is build a character almost from the inside out, what some might think inconsequential actions, King uses efficiently, mixing the innocuous with the imperative and critical, to make you fixate your attention on someone, whether they are there for the long term or just a momentary glimpse. It makes no difference, you pay undivided attention to all his charges, the characters on the periphery of this story are a perfect example, crucial, not with masses of page time but you still feel like you know them intimately. And that’s what it’s all about.
I was struggling to see how this could be turned into a trilogy, I mean it’s a retired detective hunting the murderer that got away, I still don’t see it at this point but the King obviously has bigger plans for these characters and I’m in it for the duration.
Recommended, A 4.5* rating.